|Pen and Ink Reflections
One of the most memorable voices of my English schooldays was that of the great cricket commentator John Arlott. He reported on many things, and was also a poet, wine-connoisseur, hymn-writer, part time politician, anti-apartheid spokesperson and renowned host of dinner parties. His distinctive radio tones and brilliant turns of phrase illuminated English summers and some other special occasions, notably the great Centenary Test Match in Melbourne in 1977. Thousands of miles away I remember being curled up through the night listening under the covers to John’s words. His descriptions were typically unforgettable: such as that of the scene of Dennis Lillee’s destruction of the English first innings, where, he said, even the ‘seagulls were standing in line like vultures’, and also Derek Randall’s heroic second innings fightback – an innings as inimitable as John’s own expressions. Gordon Greenidge, the great West Indian batsman, even named him ‘the Shakespeare of commentators.’ Above all, however, I will always cherish John Arlott’s vigorous standing up for our common humanity, not least over apartheid. He had learned to move on from his English colonial upbringing from Indian cricketers, not least the wonderful Vijay Merchant. Famously then, he was involved at the forefront of cricket’s anti-apartheid struggles. Indeed, as early as 1948, visiting South Africa, he refused to fill in the section marked ‘race’ on the departure form, except to put the word ‘human’. ‘What do you mean?’, said an angry immigration officer aggressively. ‘I am a member of the human race’ came back the reply. Eventually he was just told to ‘get out’. How I wonder would John Arlott fare today with resurgent racism, nationalism, and the exclusivism of so many immigration policies? What price human unity today? What, in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, does faith have to contribute?...
by Jon Inkpin, for Pentecost 11A, Sunday 24 August 2014
Most of have probably heard of Mahatma Gandhi. What however does ‘Mahatma’ mean? It was not the real name of the remarkable 20th century Indian leader called Gandhi. His name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The honorary name Mahatma was given to him because of his amazing character. Indeed, it was given to him when he was a lawyer in South Africa, especially for his deep concern and work for the poor. For the name Mahatma comes from a Sanskrit word which means ‘high (or great) soul’. In Christian terms, we might say ‘saint’, or, simply, one who is ‘great hearted’.
Whom would you name Mahatma today?
Whom do you see as ‘great hearted’?...